One of the most grown-up review sites around

52,000 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Editor in Chief: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider

Yes we are selling
Acte Prealable again!
£11 post-free

we also sell Skarbo

and Oboe Classics


with Eggebrecht we get all the excitement we can handle

Book 1 Book 2 Book3
Mota The Triptych: -Website

Asmik Grigorian

Breathtaking Performance
controversial staging
Review Westbrook
Review Hedley
Every lover of Salome should see this recording
Mullenger interpretation

absolutely thrilling

immediacy and spontaneity

Schumann Lieder

24 Preludes
one of the finest piano discs

‘Box of Delights.’

J S Bach A New Angle
Organ fans form an orderly queue

a most welcome issue

I enjoyed it tremendously

the finest traditions of the house

music for theorbo
old and new

John Luther Adams
Become Desert
concealing a terrifying message

ground-breaking, winning release

screams quality

Surprise of the month

English Coronation, 1902-1953
magnificent achievement

REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

Support us financially by purchasing this from

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
Un ballo in maschera (1859) [132:35]
Gustavo III – Luciano Pavarotti (ten)
Renato – Piero Cappuccilli (bar)
Amelia – Gabriele Lechner (sop)
Ulrica – Ludmila Schemtschuk (mezzo)
Oscar – Magda Nádor (sop)
Cristiano – Georg Tichy (bar)
Horn – Franco De Grandis (bass)
Ribbing – Goran Simic (bass)
Un giudice – Alexander Maly (ten)
Un servo – Franz Kasemann (ten)
Chorus and Orchestra of the Vienna State Opera/Claudio Abbado
rec. live broadcast, 26 October, 1986, Wiener Staatsoper
No libretto
ADD stereo
ORFEO C907162I [60:14 + 72:21]

Clearly the most attractive aspect of this live broadcast is the presence of Luciano Pavarotti in fine, ringing voice, but also often singing softly to adumbrate the pathos and dignity of the protagonist’s sensibilities. This is the “Swedish version”, as Verdi and librettist Somma intended before the censors forced them to switch the location, absurdly, to colonial Boston to avoid the spectacle of a monarch being assassinated on stage.

This also marked the debut of Austrian soprano Gabriele Lechner at only 25 years old. According to the booklet essay by Oliver Láng, critics declared that a new star had been born and hailed her “brilliant top register and her beautiful piano singing”; I am less comfortable with that encomium mainly because I find her sometimes shrill and her intonation often variable, although she certainly throws herself into the role convincingly. Piero Cappuccilli was evidently something of a favourite with the Viennese public and receives a thunderous applause for an “Eri tu” which to my ears, is relentlessly bawled and typical of his bland approach throughout; perhaps you had to be there. Magda Nádor is a poor Oscar, flat, unsteady and charmless.

In compensation, Ludmila Schemtschuk sings a solid, steady Ulrica and Pavarotti crowns his performance with a touching death scene in which he deploys a beautifully controlled piano and proves that he was still in best voice just past his fifty-first birthday. Abbado conducts with sweep and sensitivity and the orchestra and chorus sound first class.

The sound is very good, slightly reverberant and redolent of a large theatrical space rather than the rather close studio we are perhaps too used to.

Unless you particularly want to hear “Lucky Luciano” in top form singing a favourite role, this cannot in all conscience be recommended over other live broadcasts such as the 1957 La Scala performance conducted by Gavazzeni, with Callas, Di Stefano and Gobbi, or indeed the studio recording from the year before, conducted by Votto, also with Callas and Di Stefano but Bastianini instead of Gobbi – although admittedly both of those are in mono. There are also several preferable studio sets in more modern, stereo sound, such as those conducted by Leinsdorf or Muti, fielding ensembles which offer greater satisfaction across the board, whereas no other performance here matches Pavarotti’s.

Ralph Moore



We are currently offering in excess of 52,000 reviews

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger